• Accountable Governance

Rwanda Hosts Regional Police Summit

The 3rd International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Sub-Saharan Africa Executive Conference, under the theme “Contemporary Policing for a Safer World” took place from the 3rd to the 4th of March 2014 at the Serena conference center in Kigali. This is the third conference following two others that took place in South Africa in 2000 and 2006 respectively. 

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) was established in 1893 and is committed to advancing the profession of policing by promoting enhanced practices, cooperation and the exchange of information between police and other institutions.

Among the more than 150 participants, over 25 police chiefs, as well as ACP international members and other senior police officers from over 40 African countries attended. President Kagame delivered the opening remarks, noting that as the security challenges of the 21st century are increasing and criminals are becoming more sophisticated, collaboration is necessary to effectively combat common challenges.Various Police bodies and institutions enjoyed the opportunity to form unique partnerships to cooperate in various Policing areas. The IACP conference precedes other international conferences to be held in Rwanda, including the Annual General Assembly of the international Police body – Interpol – to be held next year. The UN Women Representative, Diana Ofwona, was invited to speak on the topic of sexual and gender-based violence (SBGV). Speaking in front of the Inspector General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana, and the assembled delegates, Ofwona remarked that it was a special occasion, since it is not commonplace for SGBV to find its way into the agenda of high level policy discourse and action of security organs and receive the attention it deserves.

Sexual violence warrants specific attention as one of “history’s greatest silences.” Its impact is exacerbated by social and religious taboos, including a cultural disinclination to disclose abuse. It is precisely this stigma and silence, which fuels impunity for the perpetrators, whether in times of peace or in instances of war.

SGBV challenges conventional notions of what constitutes a security threat. Cheaper than bullets, it requires no weapons system other than physical intimidation, making it low cost yet high impact and overwhelmingly damaging. Violence against women and girls is a pandemic of serious proportions in Africa taking various forms and often reflecting the great political, social, cultural, political and economic diversity.

The UN Women Representative spoke about the many achievements which have been accomplished since ‘The failure of humanity in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s’, including: an architecture of international jurisprudence that recognizes sexual violence as a war crime, a crime against humanity, and a possible constituent act of genocide; ground-breaking cases before international and domestic courts; the drafting and commitment to international conventions such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA), and the AU Protocol on Women’s Rights; and meetings such as the two-day Special session during their 4th Ordinary Summit held in Kampala, Uganda mid December 2011 on the theme of: “United to prevent, end impunity and provide support to the victims of sexual and gender-based violence”. Two projects in particular deserved the attention of the International Association of the Chiefs of Police. The UN Secretary General’s campaign “UNiTE to end violence against women and girls” has galvanized governments, civil society, the corporate sector, athletes, artists, women, men and young people around the world. The campaign is premised upon 3 Ps: PREVENT violence against women and girls; PROMOTE justice and end impunity and PROVIDE holistic services to survivors of violence. The main objectives of the UNiTE campaign are: - Heighten awareness amongst all stakeholders on the gravity of violence against women and girls (VAWG) - Mobilize greater political commitment to ending VAWG - Mobilize more resources to end violence against women and girls - Empower women and communities to demand accountability In Rwanda, the impact of the campaign is reflected through the collaboration of the One UN and Rwanda National Police on the Insange One Stop Centre project.The Isange One Stop Centre (OSC) is a pilot initiative between the Government of Rwanda, through the Rwanda National Police, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Gender, the Ministry of Justice and the One UN in Rwanda, dating as far back as 2009. The wide range of services offered by the Isange OSC from investigation to forensic services, psycho-social trauma counselling, medical attention and legal aid means that there has, over the years, been a much clearer accounting of sexual and gender-based violence in justice processes in Rwanda; better outcomes for survivors; and a consolidation and systematization of the lessons learned that have largely informed a scale up process.

On the way forward, Ofwona proposed to:

  • Prioritize training of security (especially police) in SGBV;
  • Take measures to facilitate tracking and reporting of SGBV cases from the grassroots and beyond borders.
  • Advocate for the integration of SGBV in the national planning frameworks and allocation of budget lines for prevention, and response to SGBV.
  • Fast track the establishment and scale up “One Stop Centres”

Read more and see pictures here